06 March 2007

The Desert of Einfuhlung - Chapter 1, Part 1

The TARDIS landed with a gentle bump, rousing her three passengers from their different reveries.
"Where have we landed, Doctor?" Saskia asked, glancing over at the tall, wiry man, who was looking at a screen on the console in front of him.
"Near the Museum where you work," he answered. "I thought that was the easiest place."
Saskia nodded. "I suggest we go to my apartment and I'll contact Dr Karg to find out how soon he can see us." She turned to the short humanoid beside her. "Is this acceptable to you?" she asked the Devron telepathically.
"We are in your hands," it answered.
Saskia nodded again, then pulled on her coat. "Come on then," she said.

The Doctor was surprised to hear a note of reluctance in her voice. He had expected her to be full of eagerness now that they were back on her home planet, especially after all she had been through in the last three days. He followed her and the Devron out into the street, locking the TARDIS doors behind them. He took a deep breath of Einfuhlung's air, his eyes closed in appreciation, his hands shoved into the pockets of his blue pinstripe suit.
"Are you coming Doctor?" Saskia called as she realised he wasn't right behind her.
"Sorry, yes. Just savouring your native air," he answered with a grin.
"Well you can do that from the balcony of my apartment, if you like," she told him.
He followed his companions down the side street where the TARDIS was parked, easily catching up with them with his long stride.
"Whereabouts do you live?" he asked Saskia.
"Up there," she said, pointing across the street at a six storey building.
The Doctor looked up at the building which he realised was only a few minutes walk away from the Museum. "That's handy for the office."
"We don't believe in long commutes here," Saskia answered. "it's environmentally and economically unfriendly."
The Doctor nodded his understanding. "So which floor are you on?"
"The fourth." They crossed the street and Saskia led the way up the steps, entering a code on the keypad beside the door, which swung open to admit them into a bright, well-lit hallway. Saskia crossed over to the lifts and they were quickly taken up to the fourth floor. They found themselves in another well-lit hallway, off which opened just two doors, one on each side. Saskia walked over to the right hand door and let them in via another code on the keypad.

She pushed the door open with one hand and gestured inside with the other. "Welcome to my home."
The Doctor walked inside, hands in his pockets yet again, and looked around at the large room. It was painted in a pale blue, but most of the wall space was taken up with shelves of books, music recordings and films. At the far side of the room, two large French windows led out onto a balcony.
"May I?" the Doctor asked, gesturing at the balcony.
"Help yourself," Saskia answered, turning to the Devron, who remained on the threshold. "You can come in," she told it. "You are welcome here."
The Devron raised its grey eyes to her face. "Truly you are strong," it said.
Saskia raised an eyebrow. "What makes you say that?" she asked.
"We tried to kill you, yet you do not seek to punish us, but to help us."
"I told you before, I tried to kill you too. As far as I am concerned, that makes us equals. If you deserve punishment, then so do I."
Saskia looked round at the Doctor's enthusiastic exclamation. He stuck his head back inside the room. "This view is fantastic," he said. He beckoned to the Devron. "Come and see."
It looked at Saskia, who nodded encouragement. "I'm going to call Dr Karg's office," she said.

Leaving them to admire the view, she walked over to her videophone. A light on it was blinking rapidly, indicating that she had several message waiting. She scowled a little, then decided they would have to wait for the moment. Too many explanations would be necessary after her ten day absence. Instead, she keyed in the number for Dr Karg's office and was pleased when he picked up the call himself.
"Saskia!" Dr Karg's face lit up with a smile of pleasure when he saw her. "I heard you'd gone missing after the failed invasion by the Rovians. I'm glad to see you."
"I've been away, Dr Karg. It's rather a long story, but I'd like to come and see you, if that's possible. There are some things I want to discuss with you, and a couple of people I want you to meet."
"Professionally?" he asked curiously.
"Yes please."
"Well you're in luck. I've got a free afternoon. Come at midday and we can have some lunch, then talk."
"Thank you," Saskia answered gratefully. "See you later."
Dr Karg nodded, then ended the call.

Saskia looked round to see the Devron and the Doctor coming back into the room. "Dr Karg can see us at midday. He'll give us some lunch as well." She looked at the Devron. "Do you eat the same things as humans?" she asked.
It nodded. "We prefer fish and vegetables."
"What are we going to do for the next couple of hours?" asked the Doctor.
"Well I need to check my messages and speak to my boss, at least," Saskia answered, looking concerned.
"Do you want to go for a walk?" the Doctor asked the Devron, who shrugged, then nodded.
"Right. We'll need about half an hour to get to Dr Karg's office, so don't be too late in getting back – and try not to get into any trouble whilst you're out," she said, looking meaningfully at the Doctor, who assumed an innocent air.
"I can't imagine what you mean," he answered, trying to sound hurt.
Saskia just gave him a look, without commenting. He grinned at her and she watched them leave, before keying in the code to retrieve her messages. Three were from her boss, who looked and sounded increasingly harassed in each one. The other two were from her friend and fellow archivist, Luca. She sighed, then keyed in the number for her boss.
"Saskia! Where on Einfuhlung have you been the last ten days?" he demanded.
"Hello Philip. I haven't been on Einfuhlung, actually," she answered.
He looked at her in astonishment. "What?"
She explained quickly and concisely what had happened, although she left out any references to the Devron.
"Well! I'm glad that you're OK, but when are you coming back to work?"
"Not for a few more days," she answered. "I'm sorry, Philip, but there are a few things I need to sort out, matters arising from my 'trip'."
"This Doctor chap, is he with you?" Philip asked curiously.
"He came back with me, yes."
"Is he one of the 'matters arising', as you put it?"
"Yes. We had an experience that we want to discuss with Dr Karg."
Philip looked at her in surprise. "Dr Karg? Are you sure that you're OK?" he asked anxiously.
"I'm quite well, thank you. We just need to talk."

Philip nodded. "OK then. Listen, you haven't had any time off yet this year, why don't we record this as part of your annual leave? Take another four days off, to make it up to two weeks, and I'll see you in five days time."
Saskia nodded gratefully. "Thanks Philip. Is Luca in today?"
"He's down in the vaults."
"Will you tell him that I'm back and that I'll call him later, please?"
"Of course! He'll be as relieved as I am to hear that you're back. We've both been worried sick about you."
"Thanks. I'll speak to you soon." Saskia ended the call, then went to fetch her mail from the box beside the door. Finding nothing urgent, she dropped it onto the coffee table, then walked over to her desk and turned on her portable computer. She checked her electronic messages and found half a dozen from Luca and two from Philip. The rest were all related to the professional discussion groups that she used online. She flicked through them quickly, sent notes to a handful of people, then put her group subscriptions on hold. She was still in two minds about continuing to travel with the Doctor, but she knew that the next few days would be busy enough, without trying to keep up with the discussion groups. She looked at her watch: 11 o' clock. She walked through to the kitchen and checked the contents of her fridge. She removed a handful of items that were past their best and dropped them into the recycling bin. Then she decided to shower and change before the Doctor and the Devron returned.

When the downstairs door buzzer sounded twenty minutes later, Saskia was feeling somewhat better. She checked the door camera, then buzzed the door release button to let them in. The Doctor practically burst into the room and Saskia was reminded once again of an eager puppy.
"Hello. Good walk?"
"Yes thanks," the Doctor answered, grinning enthusiastically. "This city is fantastic!"
"I'm glad that you like it," Saskia said.
"The city is designed well," the Devron volunteered.
Saskia smiled at it. "I'm glad you think so. Are we ready to go, then?"
They both nodded, so she picked up a small bag and slipped it onto her shoulder, before leading them downstairs.
"I like the trams," the Doctor said. "Very neat."
"That's good because we're taking a tram to Dr Karg's office."

No comments: